February 23, 2016

Michigan residents flock to Lansing to urge Snyder, lawmakers to act now on straits pipeline

Michigan residents flock to Lansing to urge Snyder, lawmakers to act now on straits pipeline

Citizen lobbyists deliver 8,500 letters to governor urging action on aging Enbridge Line 5

Feb. 23, 2016

Media Contacts:  Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch, (586) 556-8805 | lkaucheck@fwwatch.org
Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action, 
(616) 516-7758 | smcbrearty@cleanwater.org
LANSING—A growing wave of public concern about Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac brought dozens of citizens from across Michigan to Lansing Tuesday to urge lawmakers and the Snyder administration to act now to protect the Great Lakes from a disastrous oil spill. 

The day of action comes as communities around Michigan are raising their concerns about the pipeline and calling for immediate action. To date, more than 20 local units of government have passed resolutions urging Gov. Rick Snyder to use his authority to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac or demanding other state action to prevent an oil spill.

“It’s clearer now than ever that people and communities throughout Michigan will not tolerate the huge risk Line 5 continues to pose to our environment, economy and drinking water,” said Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch. “Business owners, environmentalists, tribal leaders and other Michiganders from all walks of life are united in our determination to stop the flow of oil through the Great Lakes. Our efforts today should make it unmistakably clear to our political leaders that inaction is not an acceptable option.”

Citizen lobbyists met with 22 state lawmakers on behalf of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign and asked them to support a resolution before both chambers that calls on the governor to terminate Enbridge’s easement of Great Lakes bottomlands and shut down Line 5 in the straits.Participants also dropped off some 8,500 letters at Gov. Snyder’s office calling on him to shut down the pipeline. 

“I think the huge stack of letters we’re delivering today is a sign of how passionately Michigan residents care about our Great Lakes and how urgent a threat we believe Line 5 poses to our water and way of life,” said Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action. “Every day the governor allows Enbridge to pump oil through the Straits of Mackinac is another roll of the dice, with the world’s greatest freshwater resource at risk. Let’s quit gambling with the Great Lakes.”

The 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster—the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history—was one of more than 800 oil spills Enbridge was responsible for in the U.S. and Canada from 1999 to 2010. Today the company is working to skirt public review processes and expand its GXL pipeline network in the Great Lakes region to carry 1.1 million barrels per day of tar sands crude—a significantly greater volume than was proposed for the Keystone XL pipeline—according to a report issued last week by several environmental groups. Line 5 is part of the GXL network, and carries Canadian petroleum products from Superior, Wis., to Sarnia, Ontario.

“It’s time for Michigan’s leaders to stand up to Enbridge and make it clear that we will not allow the company to continue putting our Great Lakes at risk by using them as a shortcut from Canadian oil fields to Canadian refineries,” said Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “The public’s concern about Line 5 could not be clearer. The Snyder administration must assert its authority before another disaster tarnishes our fresh water and our state’s reputation.”